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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Legal at the time?': companies, governments and reparations for Mauritian slavery
Authors:Croucher, RichardISNI
Michel, Didier
Year:2014
Periodical:Journal of African Law (ISSN 0021-8553)
Volume:58
Issue:1
Pages:89-108
Language:English
Geographic term:Mauritius
Subjects:slavery
reparations
offences against the person
legal procedure
Link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021855313000193
Abstract:This article critiques the 'legal at the time' argument used by states and companies which historically practised slavery to defend themselves against claims for restitution. The authors examine the Mauritian case. Although slavery in Mauritia was largely legal before its abolition by the British, torts were common under slavery. Between 1794 and 1839 the local Úlite defied first French and then English law, which generated systemic unlawful activity. Most types of legal action for the restitution of slavery presented enormous obstacles; pursuing reparations supported by broad legal arguments was therefore a more viable route. Slavery was an illegitimate endeavour in itself. While the authors are sympathetic with this view, this article demonstrates that the 'legal at the time' argument against reparations contains significant lacunae even within its restricted terms. It also shows that French constitutional law offers possibilities in the form of rights that are not bound by time. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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